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Levine: Cubs Should Buy Out Rooftop Owners

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Wrigley Field rooftops. (David Banks/Getty Images)

Wrigley Field rooftops. (David Banks/Getty Images)

Bruce Levine Bruce Levine
Bruce Levine covers both the Cubs and the White Sox for CBSChicago.co...
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By Bruce Levine-

(CBS) – After hearing both sides of the rooftop argument from two intelligent men who represent opposing views, one eternal point seems to resonate: sell, sell, sell if you own a rooftop that faces the ballpark

It is in everyone’s best interest that the Cubs purchase control from of all of the rooftop owners and make them part of there corridor plan in the Wrigley-City of Chicago agreement.

As a life time Chicagoan and baseball fan I do not see a villain in this legal debate. The Cubs have a legal right to expand and add revenue enhancing elements to the ballpark. It says so in the agreement with the rooftop association and it says the same in the new agreement with the City and the Landmark people, who are basically one and the same.

The rooftop owners have the same right to protect their interest and investment in the partnership with the Cubs. The contract protects the rights of the rooftop owners to continue to have unimpeded views in order to do business as usual. The signage issue appears to be a non-starter for both sides. The rooftop people want outside the park signs that can be affixed to their buildings in order to preserve the views for customers. The Cubs insist on the Jumbo electronic board in left center field. Upwards of $25 million in new revenue is being projected by the Cubs for scoreboard advertising. The franchise received $3.2 million from the rooftop owners in 2013, which was 17 percent of the $22 million gross the rooftops combined for in sales.

In their new deal with Budweiser, the Cubs will get millions from the exclusive in- park advertising that the two sides agreed upon last year. Prior to 2014, other beer companies could advertise and sell inside the Wrigley bowl during games. The other companies can now only sell at beer stands in the corridor from 2014 forward. Outside of the rooftop owners the Cubs received the most revenue from Bud ($3.1 million) last year, more than any of their other advertising partners.

It is a simple and reasonable solution that I propose. The two sides should tear up the previous contract and move forward with an equitable plan to pay off the final 11 years of the original agreement. In my plan the Cubs get to put up as much signage as the can sell. The rooftop owners will be promised the same gross revenues(as of 2013) by the Cubs if business sales suffer due to the impacted views. The two sides in the meantime begin work on selling or leasing the rights of the rooftops back to the Cubs to run as their own business during the 81 game schedule. Much more income could be realized, if future live music events are positioned (stage at home plate) so rooftop ticket sales could be included in the revenue stream.

There is plenty of money for both sides to initially share in the Wrigley expansion. Cub fans deserve the finest ballpark and amenities in Major League Baseball. Please stop taking the fans as hostages and agree to move on in this very lucrative money making venture.

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